...IT'S GOOD TO LISTEN Listening to the consumer is the key to developing the success of Danepak, and this includes going beyond simple innovations with packs and joints, says Jim Moseley, sales and marketing director of Tulip International Danepak ­ The Brand Tulip International knows pretty well everything there is to know about creating the most delicious tasting bacon. With a Danish heritage that dates back to 1847 that's hardly surprising. We are proud of our heritage at Tulip. But we also realise that its value is only as high as the support we give to our brand - that we give to Danepak. We know that to stay ahead into the new millennium and beyond, we must capitalise on our valuable heritage while at the same time bestowing it with contemporary values. We will achieve this by continuation of the process of combining our understanding of the bacon category with that of the consumer. The Category An analogy between bacon and wine illustrates how the bacon category could develop. Think back 10 years, when branded cheap wines were the nation's staples. Just look at the wine categories in the multiples today. The number grading system invisibly holds consumers' hands and gives them the confidence to buy a wine to their taste, without having a degree in oenology. Like wine, the bacon fixture has a heritage which gives it the right to develop its category. There is only one way to develop the category successfully and that is by listening to the consumer. How do we do that? Listening To The Consumer At Tulip we keep a keenly focused eye on current and future trends. This observation confirms development in household size, health concerns, lifestyle trends. For example one can identify the growth of the single person household, particularly 25-29 year old men and an overall decline in average household size. Surely then it should be simple to prepare to meet consumer demands for tomorrow and in some ways it is. For example, we should make available smaller pack sizes for small households. Food manufactureres should offer reduced fat, reduced sugar and reduced salt products in order to meet the concerns of some consumer groups. And, more importantly, we must channel our creativity into developing convenient good tasting exciting meal selections. Each of these three requirements has by now been addressed by Tulip through smaller bacon packs, Danepak Lean and Low bacon and, for example, our range of joints including the Glazed Gammon Joint. The problem goes deeper and the real challenge for NPD is to recognise other fundamental changes which are taking place. We are witnessing a marked polarization of consumer demands and I can only see this increasing in the future as income and health concerns box the consumer into an ever more confusing matrix of choice. Income polarisation is creating two nations of consumption': one led by price, the other by premium, quality and choice. Guiding The Consumer We have made considerable investment in consumer research and are clear that consumers don't understand bacon even though they love it. Is it the market terminology we have created, such as dry cure', that has led to this confusion? Can't we do more to help them make a better choice as to what makes the best breakfast, what should be used in a Pasta dish or in the ultimate sandwich? In future, we must make it easier for the consumer to make a bacon purchase based on quality and choice. Additionally there has been long-term decline in the bacon market. Consumers don't reckon bacon is as good as it used to be. Our challenge has been to arrest this decline and give the consumer bacon which lives up to their expectations. In other words we need a choice of bacon which cooks well and tastes great. At Tulip our brand message is simple and succinct. Our new packs represent a combination of tradition and the new Danepak proposition. Danepak mythology is communicated by our on-pack butcher representing the expertise and traditions of our company. The new range demonstrates modern bacon choice: Danepak Best Bacon or traditional choice, Danepak Classic Dry Cure and the healthy choice, Danepak Lean and Low. There's something for everyone. No wonder recent research produced this comment: "Whenever I think of bacon, it's Danepak, because it tastes so good time after time." Supporting the Brand Now and Into The Millennium Key to Tulip's understanding of consumer needs is the appreciation that the relationship must be ongoing. We may have a valid proposition now, one which addresses consumer needs, but will it be valid in 1998, 2001, 2010....? I doubt it. Danepak's challenge now and into the future is to buy right into the soul of ECR, to ensure an ongoing rapport with the consumer and through championing the category, deliver taste, quality and choice. l {{Z SUPPLEMENTS }}